That was the distance covered by Brett Groennert and his son, Jack, on Thursday morning as the duo made the trek from suburban St. Louis to One Arrowhead Drive for a day to remember.
The Groennert’s had won a raffle through the Chiefs Kingdom Rewards program, granting them a behind-the-scenes look at practice and digital production day. It was a tremendously unique opportunity, one worthy of a multi-hour drive across the state.
Though for this father and son - both Chiefs Season Ticket Members - the stretch of I-70 connecting Missouri’s two largest cities was already quite familiar.
“We were Rams fans, being from St. Louis, but we always followed the Chiefs just because they’re from Missouri. We love football and the organization is fantastic, so [when the Rams left], it was pretty easy to [adopt the Chiefs],” Brett explained. “Great players, great organization…it’s worth the drive.”
The Groennert’s made the switch after the Rams’ departure for Los Angeles in 2016 and began following their new team any way they could.
“We just started watching and paying more attention to the Chiefs – thinking about what we were going to do,” Brett said. “If the game wasn’t on TV at home, we’d head to a bar.”
Though as time went on, Brett and Jack decided it was time to watch their new team in person. The duo made their inaugural drive across the state later that season and took things a step further prior to the 2017 campaign by purchasing season tickets.
“There’s a group in St. Louis that meets at a restaurant bar for every game – we’ve been a few times and it’s fantastic - but we decided to go ahead and get the season tickets instead,” Brett said. “The atmosphere [at Arrowhead] is incredible. It was just getting used to the drive more than anything else."
And interestingly enough, the drive itself became as a part of the experience as anything.
“He’s my football guy. It’s just great that we have the time together,” Brett said of Jack, his co-pilot on game days. “We get to talk about football and other things, then sit and watch the game, then talk on the way home. It’s really nice.”
Jack, who plays quarterback for his high school football team, summed it up nicely.
“I’m pretty lucky,” the teenager said grinningly.
Of course, that initial trip two years ago wasn’t Brett’s first encounter with Arrowhead. That was way back in 2000, and though he was rooting for his hometown Rams at the time as the two teams battled for the Governor’s Cup, he noticed something was different about football in Kansas City.
“I remember my very first game was when [Rams quarterback] Kurt Warner broke his finger and the Rams, who came in undefeated, got beat,” Brett said. “We never sat the whole game, everybody stood, so that was different from being at the Rams’ stadium. In Kansas City, you’re going to stand and that’s just the way it is. The atmosphere is fantastic.”
Unbeknownst to Brett back then, he would eventually find himself in the thick of that tradition on a weekly basis.
“If the game is at noon, we usually leave by 6:30 or 7:00 so that we can get here and tailgate with some friends,” Brett explained. “We’ve parked all over the place and everybody is just so nice, offering me a beer or a hot dog or a soda. You don’t even know them and they’ll offer it to you.”
It’s that same hospitality that brought both Brett and Jack back to Arrowhead on Thursday, where the duo – along with two other Season Ticket Members – had a chance to watch practice while eating lunch before heading downstairs and immersing themselves in digital production day, where the bulk of player-specific photo and video content was collected for next season.
The group had a front row seat throughout the afternoon – even participating in a few shoots – while meeting a slew of players along the way.
“We were like a couple kids in a candy store,” Brett said of the experience. “I love interacting with them because you get to see who they really are. We watch these guys on TV, so it’s neat that they’re so personable and humble.”
From handshakes and pictures to authentic conversations, the excitement in the room was contagious.
“Just to see the smiles on their faces is great,” said wide receiver Sammy Watkins. “They got a look at our day and what we do off the field besides just running routes and scoring touchdowns...they got to see us just being ourselves.”
It was an experience neither Brett nor Jack would soon forget, prompting reflection on the duo’s decision to adopt a new team hundreds of miles away just three years ago.
“We did this because of the sheer fact that we love football,” Brett said. “This a storied franchise and we just wanted to be a part of it.”